Hugo Charlton is a practising criminal barrister, international Human rights lawyer, environmental activist, broadcaster and commentator. He was Chair of the Green Party of England and Wales from 2003 to 2005. Though he is no longer active in the Green Party, Charlton continues to speak on environmental and human rights issues, in particular on issues concerning climate change and its reduction through the prevention of deforestation, and on the right to self-determination for indigenous peoples. He is also an expert on the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme and an advisor on clean technology solutions. He has worked for many years in support of the Kurdish community in the Middle East.
Education and career
Hugo Charlton was born in Kensington. He graduated from York University having studied sociology and social psychology and later travelled widely and exported whisky to the Far East, Latin America and the Caribbean. He served in the Territorial Army for seven years.
Charlton was called to the Bar at Gray's Inn in 1978 and joined the Green Party in the 1980s. He served as Regional Councillor (East Anglia) and as Chair of the Policy Committee. He was the Animal Rights Speaker and Law Officer of the Party for seven years. Charlton was the Home Affairs Speaker from 1998 until he resigned his Chairmanship in 2005.
Charlton has been a candidate in both local and General Elections (Epsom & Ewell (1997), Kensington and Chelsea (1999 By Election), and Cities of London and Westminster(2001)). He was the candidate for Surrey in the European election. As Director of the Poll Tax Legal Group he was a leading member of the anti-poll tax campaign, and defended famous refuseniks such as Watt Tyler and Ken Livingstone. The argument he created, which provided the legal basis for the non-payment campaign, (namely that collection of the tax by computer could not be enforced in the Magistrates Court), was accepted by the Court of Appeal, led by Lord Nolan, and resulted in the need for new legislation. His writings include a contribution to the anthology A Permanent State of Terror, in which his essay, "Kafka through the looking glass", condemned the legal and political justification by the Court of Appeal for the detention without trial of alleged terrorist suspects. The Judicial Committee of the House of Lords, in an unprecedented ruling by nine Law Lords, has subsequently reversed the ruling by the Court of Appeal.
Charlton is a founding member of the Campaign against Criminalising Communities which has been campaigning against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation since 1999. He has been a proponent of nonviolent direct action, and participated in many roads protests, including those at Twyford Down and the M11 link road.
He has campaigned against the export of live animals, and the keeping of dolphins in captivity in the UK. He has visited Northern Kurdistan on human rights monitoring trips, and in particular highlighted the mistreatment of women whilst in police or military custody. He has campaigned against the Ilisu dam project. Following a trip to the Balkans he instigated a Green Party campaign against the trafficking of women and was one of the first to draw attention to the issue and has campaigned of the behalf of the victims of trafficking.
His ongoing concerns include the dangers posed by nuclear pollution, and has defended anti-nuclear protestors. Together with Mark Thomas he conducted an inspection of Trident nuclear submarines at the naval base at Faslane until their "pedallo for peace" was turned back by armed fast boat patrols.
He has also argued that strategic nuclear weapons are illegal under international law and campaigns against nuclear proliferation. Liberty took his case of O'Halleran, concerning the use of speed cameras, to the European Court of Human Rights on the basis of an infringement of the right to silence. The House of Lords, in his case of R v Jones and Milling, conceded that the invasion of Iraq may have amounted to the international crime of aggression, but that it was not an offence under domestic UK law as all crimes must now be made by statute.
- Matthew Tempest (8 September 2005). "'We've shaken off the silly tag'". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
- "Hugo Charlton". Kensington and Chelsea Parliamentary Candidate. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- Morgan, David (27 February 2005). "Free the Kurdish politician Remzi Kartal". KurdishMedia.com.
- Wheeler, Brian (10 June 2005). "Where next for the Green Party?". BBC News.
"We played the electoral game and the system has well and truly stuffed us," says Mr Charlton with a smile.
- Wade, Alex (16 September 2003). "Was the Iraq war illegal?". The Guardian.
One defence to a criminal charge is that the accused was acting to prevent a crime. Hugo Charlton, the barrister defending Jones and Milling, concedes that his clients' arguments are rarely used. They will say they were acting to prevent the commission of a crime because the B-52s were about to take off from RAF Fairford to take part in an illegal armed conflict, the result of which would be large-scale loss of life and destruction of property in Iraq.
- "Aldermaston may be in breach of terrorism act". New Wales. 26 September 2002.